Lanza: Task force can’t afford to aim low

As Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force heads into its second meeting, task force member Mike Lanza says the issue boils down to one question: How good a school system does Idaho want?

In a blog post Wednesday, the co-founder of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together cited two snapshots from the group’s first meeting Jan. 11.

  • Lanza cited Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, chairman of the House Education Committee, who said Idaho shouldn’t settle for less than the best possible education system. “No one disagreed with that sentiment, and many on the task force were clearly happy to hear that coming from the House education chairman.”
  • Lanza also cited a remark from Ken Edmunds, president of the State Board of Education, which oversees the 31-member task force. Edmunds said the group should only consider options that don’t cost anything. Said Lanza: “Should the governor’s task force limit our options only to those that are free—in other words, should we pursue only the politically easiest solutions?”

More from Lanza’s post:

“The entire state is watching this task force. The public has been asked to believe that by bringing together the various parties with a stake in public schools—including many accomplished and experienced educators, legislators with deep backgrounds in education issues, parents, and business leaders—that this process should and will succeed in achieving real progress for our schools. …

“We on the task force do not have the luxury of aiming low.”

The task force meets again Friday. Check in at for the latest.

  • Mike Lanza

    After I posted the article cited above and shared it with media outlets, Ken Edmunds called me to ask that I clarify his position, which he said I misrepresented. I believed that I had heard him correctly and I know others at the meeting interpreted his comments similarly; but there are no minutes to the meeting and I completely respect his right to clarify his position. Ken gave me the statement below via email. I think he is correct in what he says, and that his concern aligns with my argument urging this task force to aim high.

    From Ken Edmunds: “In the editorial that you are distributing to the media, you incorrectly represented my position. I am concerned the ideas being presented in our (task force) meetings have unrecognized costs. I believe that in order to fund the ideas being presented, we will need to change the historical methods of operating our education system. We continue to talk about education improvement by modifying the existing system without acknowledging that our current model cannot meet our children’s educational needs. Your statement that I suggested that we only look for ideas that do not cost anything or are free misses the point.”

  • Tracie Anderson, Gooding Dist. 231 trustee

    I would like to add my agreement and urging to those expressed above. I would urge the task force and all those involved with shaping education to look outside the box, even reinvent the box, as you try to come up with an education model that will meet the needs of our children today. You are very right is saying that the current model we are using (which is centuries old) will not get the results we desire, or meet the lofty goal we have set as a state, and as districts. We have to change the input if we expect a change in the outcome.